01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, read by Angie, on 09/30/2014

At some point in our future the Great Distortion takes place and the world is unstuck from time. What does this mean? It means that different eras/time periods co-exist throughout the world. You have the Prehistoric Snows in Canada, Late Patagonia in South America, the 40th Age in the Philippines area and here in the United States you have New Occident in the east and the Baldlands in the west. Some areas are so disrupted they are closed, but many others are open to exploration and trade. Sophia lives with her uncle in Boston in New Occident. Her parents were explorers who disappeared when she was three. Uncle Shadrack is one of the foremost cartologers (mapmakers) in the world and is teaching her about maps. Then Shadrack is kidnapped and leaves a message for Sohpia to find Veressa. She teams up with Theo and heads off to the Baldlands. Turns out Shadrack was kidnapped by the mysterious Blanca and her Sandmen. She wants Shadrack to help her find the carta mayor, the water map of the world, and revise it so the world is whole again. Everyone meets up in the Baldland capital of Nochtland, but there they discover that the world is not static like they thought. A glacier age is making its way north and wiping out every other age it crosses. Sophia, Theo, Shadrack and the friends they have made have to figure out how to stop it and stop Blanca.

So if the description confuses you, you are not alone. This is a very complex story that while fascinating requires a suspension of belief to enjoy. The description of the world is amazing, but it really doesn’t answer a lot of questions. For instance, no one knows what age the great disruption occurred in; however, there are ages from the distant past and the distant future. How can there be an age from a future after the great disruption if the great disruption occurs? Why are some ages closed and others open? Why can you travel and trade among some but have no idea what is going on in others? If this is earth, why are there people with feathers or metal bones? How can ages move and expand? It kind of makes your head hurt when you think about it. I think one of my biggest headaches was the language. There are lots of made up words that are like our words but not. Things like Baldlands (which I always read as Badlands) and cartologer (which I read as cartographer). It made a confusing story even more confusing. There is also the issue of the maps. Seems in this world you can make way more than paper maps. There are water maps, glass maps, cloth maps, metal maps and these maps contain not just geographical features but memories from people. No explanation on how these maps were created or how people learned to make them. Of course there was no explanation on the carta mayor and how and why it was created either.

Then you have the book itself. It is rather long and the age it is aimed at is questionable. It is complicated and has some nasty bits (torture and such) which seem to point towards a more teen reader, but the main character is obviously young and there is no romance between Sophia and Theo which points toward a more middle grade reader. I’m not really sure who I would recommend this book to. Of course there is the story itself which got even more far-fetched the longer it went along while at the same time remaining completely predictable. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book or enjoy it. I couldn’t put it down and really wanted to know how everything ended up. I was disappointed by the ending and still very confused when I finished.

23. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction

The Mirror or Fire and Dreaming by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, read by Eric, on 09/02/2014

The continuing adventures of Anand, and his companion, Nisha, following the events in The Conch Bearer. Both children live and train with the Brotherhood of the Conch, in the Silver Valley within the Himalayas. While practicing his far-seeing ability, Anand discovers a wise-woman desperately in need of help for her village. Coming to her aid thrusts Anand, Nisha, and Master Abhaydatta into the past, and into a confrontation with a powerful sorcerer.

What may sound like a typical fantasy plot is much more in execution. The author weaves just the right mix of history and mysticism, and maintains complex and lovable characters with ease. Possibly the best character of all is the Conch itself, the power of which is matched by its humor and love. This is a wonderful followup to The Conch Bearer.

23. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Quirks in Circus Quirkus by Erin Soderberg, Kelly Light (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 09/22/2014

The Quirks are not your normal family. Mrs. Quirk can influence your thinking by looking you in the eye. Grandpa can skip time. Grandma is a tiny little fairy. Young Finn is invisible unless he has gum in his mouth. Penelope can make things just by thinking of them. Only Molly is normal though she is immune to everyone else’s quirks. The Quirks have only been in Normal a short time and hope to not move again any time soon (they always have to move when their quirks cause too much commotion). However, their neighbor Mrs. DeVille is snooping around and the Quirks are afraid she is going to cause trouble for them. They are also enjoying the fact that they are getting circus lessons at school and may get to perform in front of the entire town. The Quirks are fun and quirky and they don’t want anyone to find out how unique they are. I thought this was a fun book with a lot of character. The Quirks are entertaining and unusual. I didn’t realize this was the second book in the series, but I don’t think it detracted from the story. I think kids will enjoy this unique series.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror

Fat & Bones: And Other Stories by Larissa Theule, read by Angie, on 09/17/2014

Mr. Bald, the farmer, dies and his son Bones is finally free to go after Fat, the fairy in the tree. Mrs. Bald can’t stop crying over her husband’s death. Fat and Bones have been enemies for a long time though it is not explained what made them such. Fat makes a potion for Bones’s pig foot stew and unfortunately Mrs. Bald eats it instead causing her to go flat. Bones tries to cut down Fat’s tree and instead cuts off the cat’s tail. There are other stories interspersed in the Fat and Bones tales. A pig loses her last foot to the pig foot stew. A spider loses some blood to one of Fat’s potions. It is a gruesome little collection of stories that I am sure will find fans among those kids who like horror.

15. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Lug isn’t like the other caveboys in his village. He doesn’t care about headstone or getting the biggest jungle llama. He really likes spending time in his art cave and drawing pictures on the cave walls. He is also concerned about the fact that it is getting colder. He is banished from the village along with Stony, a boy more interested in his frog than anything else. He meets Echo, a girl from the rival village who wants him to help her with Wooly, a young mammoth. Wooly and Lug train to be the best headstone pair so they can get back in the village. Unfortunately, the cold has sent more than mammoths south. A group of saber-tooth tigers is also on the prowl and wants to take over the village’s caves. The two villages have to work together to survive.

This was a fun book, a bit silly perhaps, but with a nice message about accepting people’s differences and not having to conform. It was a bit different to read a book about cavepeople where they spoke in modern language for the most part. It makes it more relatable for young readers anyway. I thought the story was fine, but did think it was strange when the fantasy element of talking animals was introduced. I wish that element could have been left out, but with it in I wish it would have been used consistently. In the beginning Lug and Echo are special because they can understand animals, but by the end the animals are talking to everyone.

15. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Visions by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Book 2 of the Cainsville series. So in the first one Olivia finds out she is adopted and her real parents are the serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen. She escapes Chicago and the media frenzy and hides away in Cainsville. There she hooks up with Pamela’s lawyer Gabriel Walsh and starts investigating the killings her parents are convicted of. Crazy things happen. Book 2 picks up after the events of book 1. Olivia and Gabriel have proven that Todd and Pamela didn’t kill one of the couples, but there are still three more to investigate. This book takes a bit of a break from the Larsen case and focuses more on other concerns, mainly what the heck is Cainsville.

Olivia finds a body in her car that mysteriously disappears before anyone else sees it. She then discovers the body’s head in her bed, which also disappears. Someone is clearly messing with her. Turns out the body belongs to a young who also has Cainsville connections. Olivia and Gabriel set out to figure out what those connections are and why someone is targeting Olivia. In the mean time, Olivia has tried to reconcile with former fiance James Morgan, but decided it wasn’t going to work out. He is not taking it well and will not leave her or Gabriel alone. Olivia has moved on to hot, young thing Ricky Gallagher, heir to the biker gang Satan’s Saints. They are hot and heavy whenever and wherever they can. Of course Gabriel doesn’t approve even though he and Olivia are not like that (anyone can see it is heading that way of course). Things get complicated as they figure out more about Cainsville’s secrets and what those secrets have to do with Olivia and Gabriel.

I like the fact that this series is not dragging out the mystery. We learned a lot about Cainsville in this book; definitely not all the secrets but enough to know a little about what is going on. I am a big fan of stories about the fae so this book is really up my alley. I like all the hints throughout which made me get online and look up the words in a Welsh dictionary so I could figure out what they heck they were talking about. It seems there are factions who want Olivia’s particular skill set of seeing omens and visions. Will she go with the elders of Cainsville or the sexy Wild Hunt or with the mysterious Tristan and his unknown faction? Can’t wait to see where this book goes.

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, read by Tammy, on 09/03/2014

raising steamA thoroughly enjoyable visit to Ankh-Morpork. This time the steam engine has been discovered. An engineer creates the first train and it soon expands beyond his dream to railways being built out to far-lying areas and other countries involving the Watch, the patrician, the press, Henry King as the financial backer and Moist Von Lipwig trying to organize and facilitate it all while not getting killed by angry dwarfs, scoundrels in the desert, rogue goblins or the first steam engine itself, Iron Girder.

Can be a stand alone story though I think readers of earlier Disc-world novels will enjoy it more as they will know the background stories of many of the characters and how they have interacted in past stories.

 

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Blood Ties: Spirit Animals Bk 3. by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, read by Kira, on 09/11/2014

blood ties elephantlarge_1download (2)This time the team heads to an Asian jungle with nasty leeches, snakes, crocodiles, and deadly insects, in search of the elephants talisman.

This book, was Not as well written as others, the tension was problematic, where I just wanted to skip ahead, and Not endure the will this person succeed at jumping high enough, or some such thing.  I suspect Garth Nix didn’t contribute as much as Sean Williams, having read Nix before.  Still I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

10. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/09/2014

This is the final book in the Black Jewels series. It is a collection of novellas that wrap up all the storylines. The first story, Winsol Gifts, takes place after the events of Tangled Webs. The family is planning their first real Winsol together. It is a light story that deals mainly with the family and the relationships between the characters. Shades of Honor is about Ranier and Surreal’s recovery after the events of Tangled Webs. They head to Ebon Askavi to let Lucivar get them back into shape. Unfortunately, there is a traitor in the Eyriens that Lucivar has to take care of. Family wraps up the Queen Sylvia storyline. Then we come to The High Lord’s Daughter the final story in this series. It starts with the death of Jaenelle and moves on to the death of Saeten. Then the relationship between Daemon and Surreal takes an unexpected turn when they turn to each other for comfort. There is a baby, a marriage and a new Dreams Made Flesh. Their daughter is named Jaenelle Saetien after the two people they have loved and lost. The story spans several years as we watch Jaenelle grow up and make the kind of friends the first Jaenelle made. It ends after she gets her birthrite jewels and they discover what she is.

I like Bishop’s short stories, or really novellas. They let us know what her characters are doing between books and this one covered a little bit of that territory and then took us beyond the books and showed us the end of the Jaenelle and Daemon story. I am a bit surprised about how this series ended up not as much as I could have been. Does it completely make sense? Maybe, but it does work with the previous books. People have to move on after a death and Jaenelle and Daemon were never going to be together forever that was always plainly stated. I was surprised at some of Daemon’s actions though; he waits centuries for Jaenelle as a virgin but a couple of years after her death he jumps into bed with several different women; seemed a little out of character for him. For the most part I am fairly satisfied with the ending of this series. So if this is the end of the Black Jewels I am not too sad about it. I just hope Bishop opens one of her other series back up or starts another series that will be just as engrossing as this one has been. And if this isn’t the end of the series I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Wild Born: Spirit Animals Bk1 by Brandon Mull, read by Kira, on 09/06/2014

In
images Spirit Animals_thumb[4] Animal_spirits_squares_black_detail AnimalSpiritCircle The beginning of the Spirit Animals series.  At the start of the adventure, 4 11-yr olds drink the special honey liquid and are able to call spirit animals.  But Not just any spirit animals appear to these 4, rather the Great 4 Fallen, who died in the old battle with the Destroyer.  Each youth is from a different country on Erdras and from a different segment in society.

 

This is a fast moving, action filled adventure.

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/08/2014

This is the second part of Cassidy’s story which started in The Shadow Queen. It begins right where the last book left off. Cassidy is still gaining the trust of her court and of Dena Nehele. She is teaching the Queens things they have forgotten and forging a bond with the land. The one bond she can’t seem to forge is with Theran. He still maintains that Cassie is not the Queen they need even though everyone else believes she is. When Kermilla comes to Grayhaven things get even worse. She is the Queen that took Cassie’s last court and she wants to make trouble for Cassie again. Theran falls for her and sets himself up against Cassie and the rest of the court which forces the court to leave Grayhaven and move south to the Shalador reserves. Theran believes Kermilla will rule Dena Nehele after Cassie’s contract ends but he can’t seem to get the support he needs. Might be because Cassie is sweet and wonderful and truly cares about the land and the people and Kermilla is a witch who spends all the money, shoplifts, berates the staff and anyone else she can and is extremely unlikeable. Since Theran isn’t waking up to the truth about Kermilla Cassie and her court have to figure out a way to do what is best for the people of Dena Nehele.

It takes a great writer to transition from one part of her world to another and Anne Bishop has done that beautifully in these Shalador books. I love how she has moved from focusing on the SaDiablo family to showing us what it is like in other courts and other parts of the world. Cassie’s story illustrates that not all successful courts have to be dark to be strong and powerful. Cassie is not a dark queen, yet she is a powerful queen and knows how to rule her land. Watching her story unfold was wonderful. I loved this book and the one before it. Anne Bishop really knows how to write characters and how to make them grow. I also love how she is able to weave her other characters into the storyline without making it seem forced or awkward.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/07/2014

We finally get back to the territory of Dene Nehele that we visited in The Invisible Ring. The realm of Terrielle was devastated by the cleansing of the realms and the ladens attack on what little blood was left. Two years after the cleansing Dene Nehale is ready to start rebuilding. The only problem is that they need a Queen. Theran Grayhaven is the heir to the Grayhaven line. He has been living in the mountain camps with the rogues his entire life. Now he is back at Grayhaven and ready to start again. He decides to call in the promise made to Jared by Daemon Sadi. Theran requests a Queen to help Dene Nehele. The Queen he gets is not what he expected and he is disappointed. Cassidy is not pretty or powerful or dynamic. She is a plain girl who knows protocol and the old ways of the Blood and she is Jaenelle’s choice for Dene Nehele. Theran and Cassidy do not fit together and they butt heads at every turn. But just because Theran doesn’t think Cassidy is the Queen for him doesn’t mean she isn’t the Queen for Dene Nehele.

This is a nice change of pace novel for the Black Jewels series. The others are all about powerful people doing big things. This is about strength outside of the jewel strength. Cassie might not have a lot of power as a Queen, but she is strong in the ways that count. I appreciate the fact that there can be more ordinary people in this world. I did think some of the side stories were a little much and kept drawing the reader away from the main story. I enjoyed Daemon and Jaenelle’s bit of story but the parts with Saeten were a bit out of character and didn’t seem to fit. As always though, Anne Bishop writes a very compelling story that is hard to put down.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/06/2014

Jaenelle and Marian are going to make a spooky house for children as part of the harvest festival. Unfortunately, someone else is also making a spooky house, but it is not going to be fun. Surreal and Ranier get trapped in the house with a group of children. Every use of magic seals and exit and there are only so many exits. There are also demon-dead trapped in the house trying to kill them. Jaenelle, Daemon and Lucivar have to figure out who is behind the house and how to rescue Surreal and Ranier. Probably not my favorite of the Black Jewels stories mainly because it seems a little silly after all the other stories. I did like the fact that we got to see more of Surreal though. Even if it isn’t my favorite it was still a fun story.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Short Stories

Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/06/2014

This is a collection of short stories from the world of the Black Jewels series. The first tells of how the Arachna became the weaver of dreams. The second, longer story is how Lucivar and Marian met and got married. The third short story is a Saeten story about losing his third child and how he finally broke with Hekatah. The final story takes place after the events of Queen of the Darkness and tells of Jaenelle’s recovery and her relationship with Daemon. I enjoyed all of these stories but it was really the Lucivar and Daemon ones that really worked for me. I liked the additional details we got about things that were only hinted at in other books.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/06/2014

Interesting story in the Black Jewels world. Takes place many years before the trilogy. It is the story of a pleasure slave named Jared who is bought by the Gray Lady, the Queen of Dene Nehele. She is one of very few Queens standing against Dorothea and her taint of the Blood. The caravan is being pursued by Dorothea as they try to make their way across the mountains. Secrets are revealed about everyone in the group and several are not who they seem. This was a nice story that gave the reader some background on events before Jaenelle’s story. Jared and Lia are interesting characters and it was fun to see Daemon helping people.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/05/2014

Jaenelle is now Queen of the Ebon Askavi. She has come into her power and rules the shadow realm of Kaeleer. Even though she has found a way to protect the Kindred and the realm she hasn’t diminished the power of Dorothea and Hekatah. They are still determined to bring down Saeten, Daemon and Lucivar and rule all of the realms. Jaenelle has to take drastic measures to rid the realms of their taint and save those she loves.

This is the final book in the black jewels trilogy and it is a great one. Everything comes to a head in this book as all the powers that have been circling finally come together. I find this book heartbreaking and lovely. It shows the depth evil can sink to and the height honor and goodness can rise to. It also shows just how far a person has to go sometimes to save the world. Anne Bishop is a master craftsman in world-building and storytelling.

08. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/05/2014

Jaenelle is recovering from the events of Daughter of the Blood but has no memory of those events. As she recovers she starts to come back into the world and reconnect with her childhood friends. Saeten finds himself the guardian of the young witch and, when her friends come to stay for the summer, an entire coven of witches and their respective escorts. Jaenelle is growing into her power and trying to figure out exactly how deep her well goes. Daemon has fallen into the Twisted Kingdom of madness because of his rescue of Jaenelle but has no memory of how he got there or why. Lucivar believes Daemon killed Jaenelle and is determined to end his life in the salt mines. And the Blood in Kaeleer are being influenced by the immigrants from Terrielle and causing the same kind of trouble. Jaenelle has to do whatever it takes to help her people survive the taint of Dorothea and Hekatah.

This book has one of my favorite scenes in it. Can’t give it away because it would spoil the ending but it gets me every time I read it. This is one of my favorite series. I love the world Anne Bishop has created. The people are dark and dangerous and the world is one of beauty and honor and evil and violence. This middle book is about growing into who you are becoming and stepping up when it is needed.

05. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/05/2014

The Black Jewels series is one of my favorites. I love the world Anne Bishop has created. It is a dark world filled with magic and power and corruption. The world has three realms: Terreille, Kaeleer and Hell. It is a world ruled by the Blood, the powerful elite whose power comes from the jewels they are given at birth and the jewels the receive at the Offering to the Darkness. It is also a world ruled by protocol and hierarchy. A world where males are supposed to serve females but a world that has been corrupted by a few. The powerful females and males are being weeded out of Terreille so that the evil among them can become more and more powerful. Traditions have been disregarded or banished and the dreams of the people are coming together to bring help. 

It has been prophesied that Witch would be coming; she would be Dreams Made Flesh and the embodiment of everything the world needs. They have been waiting 700 years for her arrival. Saeten, the High Lord of Hell, is surprised to find Witch is a young child but he is determined to help her become what she is going to be. He is the father she needs and doesn’t have. Daemon too has been waiting for her. He has been made to be her Consort a role that will make up for everything he has endured for the last thousand years. Jaenelle is Witch but she is more powerful and more vulnerable than anyone could have predicted. She can do things that no one knew were possible and that scare all the adults who want to protect her. Yet her home life is one of confusion and danger. Because she is so different her family believes she is “troubled” and bad things happen to troubled girls. 

I have read this series several times and I never really get tired of it. I love the story of Jaenelle, Saetan, Daemon, Lucivar, and all the rest. This is not really a happy book. It is dark and dangerous and filled with a lot of really icky things. There is sexual sadism, death and destruction, and the truly awful Briarwood where “uncles” work with the young trouble girls. However, it is also a world filled with love as Jaenelle moves throughout the world and touches the hearts of everyone she meets. It is one of the best dark fantasy series I have read and I would definitely recommend it.

04. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little, read by Angie, on 09/03/2014

Larissa is bitter about the scar on her face. The scar that was caused when she was pushed through the old Bayou Bridge by Alyson Granger and her friends. Larissa and her family have a long history in Bayou Bridge but her mamma doesn’t like being back in town. She is bitter about Larissa’s accident and the fact that her own sister drowned in the bayou when the bridge was hit by lightning. Larissa gets a mysterious phone call from someone telling her to trust the fireflies. Only problem is the phone isn’t connected to anything. The fireflies keep trying to lead her across the bridge to the island where her family used to live. When she makes it to the island she discovers she has been transported to 1912 and witnesses events in the life of her ancestor Anna. She also witnesses events in the life of each subsequent generation. In each generation there is some kind of tragedy and the creepy doll Anna Marie is always present. Larissa has to figure out what it all means before the doll strikes again and hurts her mamma who is pregnant with her baby sister. 

This was a pretty captivating mystery if you suspend your disbelief a bit. There is no explanation given for the magic of the fireflies or how Larissa receives the phone call from the future. The doll also doesn’t really get a very good explanation, but I did enjoy the journey Larissa went on to figure everything out. I think more important than the mystery of the doll and the family tragedies was Larissa coming to terms with her scar. She was so fixated on the scar and her hatred for Alyson that it blinded her to actual events. Once she came to terms with everything things started to become clearer. It was a nice added part of the story. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

indeximg-thing 6a00e54efdd2b38834015393b5f173970b A delightful set of guidelines on how to live your life, especially if you live within fairy tales.  Some of the wisdom applies to our reality on this earth as well.